Throughout his career, visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Jorge Elbrecht has been a prolific, restlessly creative and inventive presence: As a member of the Lansing-Dreiden collective, Elbrecht developed attention grabbing interdisciplinary work. As the creative mastermind behind Violens, Elbrecht received attention for crafting slick and anthemic 80s-inspired New Wave and synth pop. And since Violens’ demise, Elbrecht has been busy as a go-to collaborator cowriting, backing and/or producing a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Ariel Pink, Tamaryn, No Joy, Ice Choir, Kirin J. Callinan, Frankie Rose, Gang Gang Dance and No Swoon among others.
Back in 2018, Elbrecht released a wildly ambitious concept album, which contained roughly and EP’s worth of songs from four very different projects sonically and aesthetically: the shimmering and sunny pop of Presentable Corpse; 90s hi-fi ballads with REMYNYSl; the icy, full-frequency pulse of Gloss Coma; and the choral-driven, thrash metal blasts and gasps of Coral Cross. And while each project was wildly different, the entire album is held together by a subtle yet noticeable through-line. Since then Coral Cross and Gloss Coma full-lengths have been released, as well as an EP Happiness.
Elbrecht’s recent prolific period has a complicated and strange backstory, which I’ll briefly summarize: According to press notes, much of the material that’s been released since 2018 was written over a roughly decade period. At some point. Elbrecht suffered a psychotic break with reality in which he became an increasingly reclusive, barely coherent, aged husk of what he once was. During that period, the acclaimed visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer still managed to prolifically write and record material with a diverse array of collaborators — but he didn’t see much of a reason at the time.
The press notes suggest that as a result of this psychotic break Elbrecht suffered, his family, friends and supporters have settled upon one unified intention — “to continue playing Elbrecht’s music, keeping his tenacity, imagination and recorded daydreams alive.” From what I understand, more material will be released as Elbrecht has a substantial catalog of material to disseminate.
Elbrecht’s latest single “Perish” is a brooding yet campy 80s-inspired industrial/goth pop banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios and tweeter and woofer rocking beats, alternating boy-girl vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook within an expansive song structure. And much like all of Elbrecht’s work, the song should serve as a reminder to the listener: Elbrecht has an unerring ability to craft an infectious, razor sharp hook — while evoking a large sense of existential dread. Interestingly, the song is the second time that Elbrecht has collaborated with Geneva Jacuzzi — the first being “Guillotine,” which appeared on the aforementioned Here Lies.
Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “Perish” is a campy and absolutely batshit visual placing the viewer in a dystopian future with its own weird and unsettling practices and mythology. : “Upon hearing ‘Perish’ and then reading the lyrics, I felt like I was tapping into something at once ancient and futuristic,” Deans says. “There are themes of existential dread at times, while the song maintains a very campy atmosphere. The gonzo sci-fi fantasy film Zardoz came to mind, and I re-contextualized the film’s aesthetic as a backdrop to Elbrecht’s own lore and imagery. A dozen or so sci-fi films from the mid 70s seemed to deal with enclosed utopian societies in the distant future, that all have uniquely bizarre relationships with death and immortality. The aesthetic of these films seem to almost always be delightfully horrendous. John Boorman’s Zardoz is, to me, the single-most thoughtful incarnation of this trend, while boasting an absolutely batshit aesthetic that few other movies can touch.”